best before 14.11.2023

by Hartigan Malchop

Lending a Helping Hand in the Witcher 3

Howdy there folks, hope y’all are keepin’ well. It sure has been a while since I got to writin’ to you, an’ by gum I know I shouldn’t let it go on so long. I hope y’all have been up to interestin’ things, because I know times have been tough for you and those you care about. Heck, it sure is hard to know what to do when bad times go on an’ on, and you feel all lost on your own, but don’t you go forgetting that your pal Harty is thinkin’ on you, even if he ain’t the best at sittin’ down to git them rascally sulky words out to you.

What have I been up to? Well, that’s mighty kind of you to ask, friend. Your ole pal Harty Malchop has been playing the Witcher 3 for a good long while now. Now, folks, next time you get to worryin’ an’ frettin’ about how you take too long over this or that little thing, give a thought to your ole pal Harty Malchop, who done took more than three years to finish playin’ the Witcher 3. An’ that ain’t because it ain’t a fine game. Everyone and their dog out there already knows the Witcher 3 is a durn good world to play about in. It’s big, it’s got adventures, characters worth meetin’, it’s got big scary monsters, an’ you get to play as a cantankerous magic swordsman. Heck, I gotta shake my head at myself, folks. Why, I can hardly explain to myself what took me so long to put my head down an’ play this game to the end. Could be that after I first started going through the adventures of the Witcher, I maybe got a little overwhelmed. Well, whatever it was that made me walk away from this game, once I stopped, somehow months went on by, an’ then, before I’d even noticed, it’d been years since I’d gone back to the game. But not too long ago, I came back to the Witcher 3 again when I saw how much space it takes up in my Switch and I started to feel all guilty an’ foolish whenever I saw the game just sittin’ there for so long, bein’ ignored. Folks, it was time for Hartigan Malchop to get back on the horse.

I mean, you’re a horse who is talking. You can be pretty proud of that at least.

If you ain’t had a try of the Witcher 3 yerself, you play as Geralt of Rivia, a cranky fellow who makes his living as a witcher, that is to say a sort of travellin’ exterminator of dangerous wild mythic animals, with a sideline in solving problems for all the folks he meets.

It may have took me the better part of three whole years, but I’ve finally gone an’ finished the main story now, and the game has a wonderful conclusion, at least the ending I got, where some bad things happen, some good things, but that Geralt fella has something like a happy ordinary life.

A big game like this needs a hellofa lot of writing, but what’s special about the Witcher is that there’s story in all sorts of nooks and crannies all over the continent, but big and small the stories are still good an’ entertaining. It’s that great thing that a well-made game does, makin’ it feel bigger to you because it feels like there are all these other lives and problems goin’ on without you. Sometimes you run into someone who wants your help because some wolves is eatin’ up their chickens, sometimes someone wants you to go get rid of a manticore, or wants you to look into a ghost hauntin’ up the place.

At least buy me dinner first, Gerald.

There’s this one task Geralt can come across that’s so darn famous even this slow Malchop had heard of it. Geralt meets this one lady who can’t find her frying pan. It sure sounds silly, doesn’t it? Geralt is supposed to be searching the continent for his lost adopted daughter, Ciri, or at least earning money by fighting dangerous fanged, gigantic mythical monsters. But the search for the frying pan isn’t silly, it leads you to find that the pan was stolen to use the blacking for ink to write an important note. The silly little things are also sometimes important.

Looking at this picture, never has a humble caption writer ever felt more superfluous.

In fact, I think I’ve been enjoying the game more now that the main plot is finished. It no longer feels like there is looming duty hovering over every moment. I feel like me an’ Geralt maybe deserve a break. I mosey on over to the ‘Blood and Wine’ DLC, which, as it happens, might as well be called: Geralt takes a vacation in wine country.

Gerald doesn’t understand how booking a holiday works.

This extra part of the game still has them scary monsters, but it also looks sunnier an’ feels more relaxin’ somehow. I like the riding around on your horse, Roach, hopping off when you come across somethin’ to do at random. I’ve just rode up on a little sidequest where your job is to escort a rich man who wants to make pictures of some of the local beasts. Now, oftentimes when Geralt, who is a gruff workaday wanderer comes upon pompous aristocrats and arrogant rich folk, it’s a sign of conflict to come. This rich guy doesn’t want you to go around huntin’ an’ murderin’ animals this time, he just wants you to find ’em so he can make pictures of the beasts. But in the process of escorting this rich guy around to spy out vicious animals, you talk to his guards and find out he isn’t just someone with more money than sense who has taken up the hobby of immortalizing dangerous forms of nature. The rich guy has a young bed-ridden daughter who once loved going out and about in nature, and he wants to capture images and moments for her because she is too sick to get out and see the world and its wonders for herself.

But maybe change your underwear sometimes. That’s still okay.

These sorts of small stories were by far and away my personal favourite missions in the Witcher 3, stories where I got to help someone. I reckon this is maybe because I ain’t really a gruff but noble mutated swordsman roaming the world on my horse. I ain’t especially strong. I ain’t particularly powerful. Very seldom have I been in situations where I have been called on to use my strength or my abilities to help someone in need. But, y ‘know, I enjoy doing just that in the Witcher 3. On reflection, even in the main pieces of story of the game, I was always tryin’ to help Geralt’s adopted daughter Ciri be able to choose the life she wants. The ending you get from playing like this is not all good – violence and death and oppression follow the end of the game the way I played it, an’ to some small extent, your choices in the game have contributed to this ending. But I had helped Ciri live her own life, and I couldn’t imagine a better ending for Geralt. Now I’m as big a fan as the next vidya gamester of dropping into a game where you play as a gleeful, violent, chaotic, moral vacuum. But sometimes I like to play at being strong enough to be helpful, to matter in other people’s stories in my own passing way.


You can email us at bestbefore@subsidingsun.uk


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